Living on a budget is the key to financial freedom, but getting started can be frustrating. When we look at our expenses and see all of those bills we're paying every month, it's easy to throw our hands up in disgust. This is especially true when you own a home. But what about all those little expenses we incur? You might be surprised to find out just how much they amount to.
It's easy to dismiss cutting back on little things. A few dollars a month won't make a significant difference in the big picture. But a few dollars here and a few dollars there adds up to a few more dollars. When you cut back in a lot of small ways, you could end up with a lot more money at the end of the month.
One thing we can do that is good for the budget is stop wasting so much. This can apply to many areas in our lives. From eating to home heating, waste equals money going down the drain unnecessarily.
If your home is not well insulated, you're probably wasting lots of money on home heating and cooling. Insulating will cost some money up front, but it will pay for itself quickly. If you have drafts around windows and doors, weatherstripping can help maintain the temperature of your home.
Most households waste an unbelievable amount of electricity. This can be prevented in part by using energy efficient appliances and light bulbs. Turn lights, televisions, computers and other devices off when you're not using them, and open blinds to take advantage of the sun's light during the day.
Don't forget that using 110 appliances is much cheaper than using 220 appliances.
Cooking for the family instead of eating takeout or dining out is a great way to save money. Don't throw food out or the benefit is reduced. Make use of leftovers; don't let them end up in the trash. Some dishes freeze well, and this makes for easy dinners when you don't have time to cook. Use leftovers for lunch the following day or create another dinner later in the week.
Do It Yourself
Any time you pay someone else to do something that you could do yourself, you're spending money unnecessarily. This applies to little things like buying coffee instead of making your own, as well as to larger expenses such as home repairs and maintenance.
Many people buy coffee or a soft drink from a convenience store or coffee shop on the way to work in the morning. This can really add up over time. Instead, make your own coffee, or buy soda in 2-liter bottles and pour some into a smaller bottle or cup to take with you. The same applies to lunches. Instead of buying fast food, take a sandwich or something microwavable to work. It can also be healthier to do this.
While we're not all good at all types of repairs and maintenance, most of us can do some things for ourselves. Maybe you could change your own oil instead of paying someone else to do it. If the walls need painting, consider getting friends and family to help you do it instead of hiring a painter. Things like these can save us a noticeable amount of money right away.
Exchange services with friends and family. For example, if you know how to paint and your friend knows how to change oil, exchange the favor instead of money. This is one way of saving a lot of cash.
When you add up the savings, little things can make a big difference to the budget. So take a close look at your budget and see what small expenses are lurking there. If you can eliminate or reduce them, it could positively impact your bottom line.